Money Matters

Strategies for Weathering the Economic Storm

Neil Ducoff, CEO of Strategies, gives a little economic advice.

If economic worries are causing clients to stretch their time between appointments or not show up at all, Neil Ducoff, CEO of Strategies, can help you with tips to keep your business in business. “I’ve been through enough recessions to know that businesses that prepare for rough patches can continue to thrive,” he says.

Here, Ducoff offers his quick must-dos to ensure that your business stays on track — no matter what the economic forecast:

> Stop spending on the “nice to haves.” Only buy the “gotta haves.”

> Stop flying financially blind. If you can’t understand the story your financial reports are telling you and/or you don’t have a cash-flow plan, it’s time to learn. It’s the only way to make the best financial decisions.

> If your service payroll percent is greater than 30% to 35%, it’s too high. Administration and support should be under 10%. If you think it’s scary addressing pay, the alternative is even worse.

> Pre-book every client and don’t offer discounts to clients as an incentive. Properly designed systems, scripts, and execution produce results. For example, ban the line, “Would you like to book your next appointment?” from your front desk vocabulary. It’s too easy for the client to say, “Not now.” I go to the dentist every six months. When I get to the checkout desk to collect my free toothbrush, the receptionist says, “Six months from today brings us to August 11. I know you like early morning appointments. We have 8:00 or 8:30 am available. Which works best for you?” Book them when maintenance is required. Appointment reminder calls are more important than ever.

> Make every team member responsible for every hour available for sale. Cross-sell, up-sell, refer waiting list clients to competent team members. Having unsold hours in any column on the appointment book hurts everyone.

> Be a no-compromise leader. Be accountable. Hold yourself and others to task.

> Hoard cash in a cash reserve account. It’s “sleep good at night” money.

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